Between 1909 and 1915, the huge French mail-order firm of Manufacture Francais d’Armes et Cycles de St Etienne (later called Manufrance) sold Luger pistols (as well as many other types of firearms). They were enough of a substantial customer that DWM was willing to roll-mark their pistol barrels with the company name. In total, the company would sell 236 Luger pistols during the period, approximately evenly split between 9mm and 7.65mm. They cost 110 Francs each, equating to about $2500 in today’s US dollars – not cheap guns! Manufrance also sold C96 Mauser’s and 1905 Mannlichers during this period, and it is interesting to note that Mannlicher and Luger sales were roughly equal, which C96 Mauser’s sold twice as well as either.
The Lugers being sold with the St Etienne retail mark were standard 1906 commercial models, with serial numbers in the upper 40,000 and lower 50,000 range. There is no specific listing of serial numbers, as they were simply pulled from normal stock when an order was placed. This example also has a pair of numbers in the bottom of the grip, the significance of which is not clear.
“Manufacture Francais d’Armes et Cycles de St Etienne”
Manufacture française d’armes et cycles de Saint-Étienne
Which BTW mean something like maker of arms and bicycles in English, which was not uncommon in that era (c.f. Iver Johnson)
Firearms makers making bikes? Sounds like lots of people want FN and/or Royal Enfield motorcycles… I could be wrong.
Birmingham Small Arms.
Lots of gun makers also made bicycles, motorcycles and occasionally cars. Gladiator, one of the main contractors for the Chauchat was a bicycle part maker. Orbea and BH bicycles also started as Eibar gun makers before changing direction. I think Husqvarna also made some bicycles, in addition to motorcycles and sewing machines. Gun and motorcycle companies often have odd products in their histories, Daisy (BB guns) started out making windmills, Ruger’s first product was a hand drill, and the Spanish Ossa motorcycle company originally made movie projectors.
I find commercial Lugers and Mausers very interesting because they are not German military issue and turn up with unusual markings.
Mechanisms are all the same under the hood…or something
This reminded me one old ComBloc joke:
Woman is working in sewing machines factory. She asks boss if there is possibility of taking one of machines for free. Boss replies that it is not possible to take complete one, but suggest to bring some parts and assembly it at home. She replies that he had already made it three times and every time got AK rifle after that.
Parabellum Pistole never was destined for lower price range of market, though that price is comparable to other prices for other “big” automatic pistol of that era:
For example, some prices from German ALFA catalog from 1911, currency: Mark.
FN 1903 automatic pistol: 98,80
FN 1903 automatic pistol with wooden holster-stock: 114
Dreyse 9 mm automatic pistol: 108
Webley & Scott automatic pistol, caliber 38 Colt: 104
Mannlicher 7,65 mm, 8-shot and 10-shot: 112 [both variants]
According to https://www.historicalstatistics.org/Currencyconverter.html 110 Francs of 1909 were equivalent to 89.52…96.04 Mark of 1911.
Manufrance is still in business, and even sells a few guns.
I have a Manurhin stamped, Walther P-1! Walther proof marks on slide, frame, and barrel, but stamped Manurhin! Post war.